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How to Bring Ugly Offices from East Berlin to West Hollywood

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LA-based Coe Architecture International's proposed transformation of an ungainly 1970s-era Buckhead office building — 550 Pharr Road — certainly stands out from the other apartment projects happening now. For one, most of the action right now is focused on brand-spanking-new construction. And historically speaking, when older offices were repurposed into residential, the focus was usually on structures that had some kind of redeeming qualities: the post-industrial intrigue of the Fulton Cotton Mill, or the limitless possibilities of big, spare spaces found in Midtown's Peachtree Lofts, for instance. But given that 550's hopes of regaining cachet as an office location were slim to none (it underwent foreclosure last year for $7 million), it seemingly had no choice but to undergo some radical kind of makeover.

The documents provided as part of the submittal made by Lyon Communities Development illustrate some crucial changes that could go a big way in taking 550 from having the appeal of a war bunker to something people would actually pay to live in. Most dramatic will be the rebuilding of the central glass cube into a striking feature with color and a healthy dose of balconies. Although the current retaining wall that rudely abuts the sidewalk isn't going anywhere, (it's part of the underground parking structure), the patio on top of it will house the complex's pool and sunning area. When complete, the reborn edifice will house about 100 new units, with a five-bedroom penthouse topping the whole thing off. Not bad for what now looks like a cousin of Epcot's Tempo Bay.

— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Jonathan Carnright

· COE architects to design Buckhead apartment tower [Atlanta Business Chronicle]
· COE Architecture
· 550 Pharr Road [Livable Buckhead]